Anglo-Saxon Societal Values Present In Beowulf

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Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian nationalist, once remarked, “A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people” ( In literature and poetry, a culture’s societal values and principles are commonly exemplified. Readers can understand the cultural beliefs of a society from carefully reading its literary pieces. The poem Beowulf embodies societal ideals and attitudes of Anglo-Saxon culture. The Medieval epic poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, typifies Anglo-Saxon values such as oral-storytelling, heroic behavior, and loyalty.

Several examples of the value of storytelling are apparent in Beowulf.. Storytelling in the mead halls is the primary form news. After Beowulf’s victory over Grendel, a minstrel starts “rehearsing Beowulf’s triumphs and feats” in a poetic manner (Heaney 59). Through story-telling, the men and women of Anglo-Saxon society are able to spread stories, and then the stories will travel all across the land and to the people. Stories told in Beowulf introduce new heroes, such as the titular character himself, and their accomplishments, which in turn become history. Comparatively, storytelling is one of the few means of historical and cultural preservation in Anglo-Saxon society. After Grendel’s defeat, Beowulf and his troops gather in the mead hall where “the king’s poet performed his part with the saga of Finn and his sons” (Heaney 71).The poet tells an ancient tale of a dispute between the Danes and Frisians that depicts cultural aspects such as the notion of wyrd, honor, and vengeance. The story incorporates historical and cultural values that are spread by traditional oral recitations. Oral-storytelling is an important part of Anglo-Saxon culture.

Another highly valu...

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...hat Beowulf was loyal to his people as he had returned to them. Loyalty was a prominent feature in Anglo-Saxon culture.

By carefully reading Beowulf, a scholar can accumulate information about the values that dominated Anglo-Saxon society. Anglo-Saxons utilized storytelling to entertain and to teach their people. Heroic behavior such as honor and strength were immensely important in society. Loyalty to the king and to the people was essential to be a worthy individual. Although poetry often conveys great stories, upon closer examination it reveals important facets of a society.

Works Cited

Curtis, Ian. “What Anglo-Saxon societal values are presented in Beowulf?” AIM English.
New Gym Classroom. 4-11-14
Gandhi, Mahatma. 2001-2014 April 13, 2014.
Heaney, Seamus. Beowulf. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. Print.

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